Livermore Rolls Out the Barrels This Weekend, March 19 & 20

Livermore Valley Winegrowers Barrel Tasting

Winery owner Richard Dixon of Les Chenes Estate Vineyards offers a sample of his 2013 Estate Syrah aged in French Oak barrels. Photo credit: Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association

It’s time to head to Livermore Wine Country for barrel-tasting weekend, this Saturday and Sunday, March 19 and 20. The weather is looking awesome!

Barrel-tasting can be the most educational experience you can have at a winery. It can also reveal the most exciting and endearing wines you get to taste, often more appealing than what you might experience from the bottles on the tasting bar. Why?

Simply put, barrel samples are typically filled with teenage spunk and vitality, especially if they are recent vintages (in this case 2014 or 2015). Young wines will be fresh and fruit-laden, filled with energy and enthusiasm of a junior varsity cheerleading team.

As teenagers eventually morph (and in some cases, mature) into their adult versions, so does wine. Taste barrel samples with the future in mind. Many wineries will be selling futures on selected wines this weekend, often at great discounts.

What’s in your future? Let’s take a sneak peak.

Winemaker John Evan Marion of John Evan Cellars and Big White House Winery in Livermore Valley serves a barrel sample of wine in development. credit: Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association

Winemaker John Evan Marion of John Evan Cellars and Big White House Winery in Livermore Valley serves a barrel sample of wine in development. Photo Credit: Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association

3 Steves will be sampling their 2014 Zin and 2014 Cabernet and will have the highly talented and quixotic nature artist, Jude Bischoff, holding an art show. Margaret Miner from Cruise One Dream Vacations will be on hand to answer questions regarding the upcoming Danube River cruise in November.

At Artisan Spirits, Mike Eckert will be sampling his barrel-aged brandy, which has two years of age on it now. He says the idea to use rye barrels can be attributed to his dearly departed friend, winemaker Tom Coyne, who bought him several small rye casks two years ago, encouraging Mike to pursue his vision. You can also sample Mike’s 2013 Petite Sirah and port, and you can bottle your own port, too. Don’t miss the Navy Strength Gin!

Bent Creek will sample 2014 Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 Livermore Valley Petite Sirah, and will offer blending demonstrations to show how they go about creating their wines.

At Big White House & John Evan Cellars, you can challenge your schnozzle at the Aroma Bar, and put your skills to use sampling their 2014 Zinfandel, 2013 El Capitan Petite Sirah and the 2013 “Debonaire” Cabernet Sauvignon, both for futures purchase.

Visit BoaVentura de Caires for barrel samples and the opportunity to meet the winemaker. They are also open Friday, the 18th.

Caddis Cellars will have live music by Michael Beck and will be tasting their 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon from the barrel. Their 2013 was best of class at the San Francisco Chronicle. Come  check out the worthy successor!

Head to Cedar Mountain to taste and purchase futures of 2014 Duet (50% Cabernet, 50% Merlot).  Cheese plates and soup will be available for purchase from The Artistic Table, along with Bubba’s Mustards. Browse jewelry, too. Ticket holders receive 10% off wine purchases of 6 bottles or more. Futures are available at 30% off a full case, and 20% off 6 bottles.

Charles R invites you to take meet the new winemaker, Michael Chalkley, take their wine quiz and take a sip of the 2013 Petite Sirah, available for futures purchase. Get rocking on the patio with live music by “Souled Out” and choose from a delicious assortment of sandwiches available for purchase from “The Grilled Cheez Guy,” on Saturday.

Sample Cabernet and Petite Sirah (futures available) at Concannon Vineyard, and stay for a spell with food for purchase from Soleil Wood Fired Pizza Food Truck.

Crooked Vine & Stony Ridge will feature winemaker, Meredith Sarboraria, sampling estate goodies out of barrel, including 2015 Chardonnay and Petite Sirah from del Arroyo Vineyard, along with live music by Blue Conspiracy. Mario’s French Dips Food truck will be there with their awesomely tasty sandwiches for purchase.

Cuda Ridge offers tastes of the 2014 Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, both available for futures purchase, along with live music by Roger Kardinal (Sat, 1:00-4:00) and Frankie Bones Project (Sun, 1:00-4:00).

At Dante Robere, check out the food truck while you groove on barrel tastes of 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 Syrah.

Darcie Kent will be barrel-tasting 2015 DeMayo Chardonnay and 2014 Stone Patch Cab Franc 2014, two of their most popular wines. For a $20 fixed fee, you can also sample 5 Gold medal winning wines from the Library: 2010 Madden Ranch Cabernet and Syrah, 2010 Picazo Merlot, 2010 Crown Block Red and 2012 DeMayo Chardonnay.  Also, check out “End of Vintage” wines at savings of up to 50%.

Eagle Ridge will feature four new vendors, including Artisan Marshmallows, Pam’s Charm Bracelets, Kitshy Klutches, Items Made from Horseshoes and June’s Knits.  They’ll be barrel-tasting 2013 Zinfandel and 2012 Petite Sirah.

Livermore Valley Wine Growers Barrel TastingEhrenberg Cellars beckons with barrel samples and futures on a vertical of Zinfandel, including the 2013, 2014 and 2015 vintages. Enjoy an additional flight for purchase, along with crafts and jewelry. Winemaker Chris promises to dress in his full authentic lederhosen for pictures. Don’t miss that!

Fenestra will sample Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah, along with live music and craft vendors.

Garré Vineyard and Winery will be barrel sampling their 2014 Sangiovese and their 2014 Petite Sirah, and will also be offering 2011 Sangiovese and 2009 Petite Sirah at a 20% discount per bottle. Club members save an extra 10%.

Las Positas will barrel sample two clones of Cabernet Sauvignon (futures purchases available), and offer food and wine Pairing flights for $20 each: Saturday features Chocolate Truffle & Wine, and Sunday, International Cheese & Wine. Magician Comedian Ken Sonkin will be performing on Saturday March 19th.

At Les Chenes, “Barrel Tasting poster boy,” Richard Dixon, will be helping his wife, Candice, the Mistress of Mustards, serve up tasty pairings of estate Syrah Ruby Port barrel samples with strawberry cheese and their Estate Syrah with gourmet bacon cheddar cheese.

Longevity will barrel sample their 2013 Sangiovese (futures) and have live music and jewelry.

Mitchell Katz rolls out a bunch o’ barrels available for futures purchase with samples of 2013 Zinfandel, 2013 Syrah, 2013 Sangiovese and 2013 Tawny Port, along with food for purchase by Smokin’ Hot Meats & Treats, live music, crafts and jewelry.

At Nottingham Cellars & Vasco Urbano, sample Cab and Grenache, and enjoy live music by Meredith McHenry both days. LeDecor custom signs will be in the house.

Occasio Winery will feature barrel samples and futures purchases of one of Livermore’s heritage grapes, Zinfandel, along with some special insight into Livermore history by owner John Kinney. There’s not a lot of Zin left in Livermore, which is sad, because it does so well there. Says Kinney, “Livermore Zins, at their best, are more elegant and refined than the current fashion. They remind me of the old Zins of Ridge and Storybook.” Come see what he’s doing with Zin at Occasio.

Come out to Page Mill Winery and taste Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir out of the barrel. Rocky Fino, Author of “Will Cook for Sex” will be doing a cooking demonstration and book signing on Sunday. Live music, vendors and futures sales.

Retzlaff Winery will be sampling Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot and Sauv Blanc, with the winemaker present both days, along with yummy food from Wood Fire Pizza, available for purchase. Try your hand at corn hole and enjoy the sunshine on the gorgeous lawn.

At Rodrigue Molyneaux, you’ll get to taste their 2014 Merlot in both American and French Oak, and you’ll gain insight into how they made their first-ever Merlot a Gold medal winner at is year’s San Francisco Chronicle Competition. Enjoy their newly released Nebbiolo in the gorgeous garden, which now includes more picnic tables. Did you know all their Bordeaux blends are named after historic Livermore wineries? Their latest, the 2012 Mont Rouge, will be featured in a second flight for $5.

Prepare to be royally Cabernet’d at The Steven Kent Winery, where you will sample the 2013 Smith Ranch Cab (available for futures purchase), along with a special flight of Single Vineyard Series Cabernets from four local vineyards. Food available for purchase.

At The Wente Estate Winery & Tasting Room, taste and purchase futures on the 2014 Cabernet Franc. Enjoy live music by Silent Partner, and food for purchase from The Wood Fire Kitchen. An additional reserve tasting is $10; take 15% off purchases of 4 bottles or more, excluding Nth Degree wines.

At The Winemakers Studio, taste a sample of 2014 Noble Roots and indulge in a mini version of the Black Glass Tasting at $20.00 per person.

Wood Family Vineyards shares their 2013 Zin for futures purchase, along with Andy’s Candies, sampling and selling toffees.

Tickets for barrel tasting are $40 in advance at or day of for $45, at participating wineries.

Here’s to the very bright future of Livermore wines!


Laura NessLaura Ness, aka “Her VineNess,” is an accomplished wine journalist and wine critic whose passion for wine was ignited by a visit to France, where she had the unmatched pleasure of tasting Sancerre in the medieval town of Sancerre – splendid!— and then a Saumur, after visiting the Chateau de Saumur in Chinon. The concept of terroir came alive in those incandescent moments. She regularly judges wine competitions and serves on the tasting panels of the Pinot, Cabernet and Chardonnay Shootouts. She was instrumental in helping define the unique sub-regions of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA in concert with Appellation America. You can usually find her sipping and smiling in Mendocino, Livermore, the Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Cruz Mountains and Paso Robles. Laura writes extensively for many industry and consumer publications, and has weekly wine columns in several Bay Area newspapers. She blogs, irreverently and sporadically, at

Leave Your Comments Here!

Your Name (required)

Your Email (will not be published)

Your Comments

WANT A PHOTO BY YOUR COMMENT? Click Here Takes like 2 minutes.
Attention: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment. All SPAM will be deleted.

PUBLISHED DATE: March 16th, 2016 | WINE CATEGORY: News & Events
POST TAGS: , , , ,